It’s the best thing that can happen to a bettor.
Place a wager, lose, and keep your money.
That formula was realized by Penn State bettors on DraftKings following the Nittany Lions’ surprising loss in Bloomington on Saturday.
DraftKings made the customer-friendly decision to refund pregame moneyline bets on Penn State following a game-ending, razor-thin touchdown run by Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr.
It is unclear exactly how much DraftKings refunded. It likely wasn’t a huge amount. Penn State moneyline bets didn’t present much value since the team’s pregame line steadied around -250.
Regardless, it was a notable move for both bettors and those inside the industry.
Close call influences a DrtaftKings refund
It was a spectacular ending Saturday for Indiana’s football team and IU fans.
To win its first game against a top-10 opponent since 1987, IU went for a two-point conversion while down 35-34 in overtime after matching a Penn State touchdown.
The decision made sense. Momentum was on the Hoosiers’ side.
IU had by then erased an 8-point deficit with less than two minutes left in regulation, after an ill-advised touchdown by Penn State gave the no-timeouts home team new life.
The two-point overtime try by the Hoosiers to win the game felt right. Everything up to that point in their late-game rally had gone according to plan.
To start the play, Penix was immediately flushed to his left. He tucked the ball and sprinted to the corner. A defensive back met the dynamic quarterback near the three-yard line. Penix began a dive for the pylon.
The sideline referee ruled it a touchdown, believing the football in Penix’s right hand knocked the pylon before landing out-of-bounds.
The call was upheld on replay. So close, each side could see what they wanted to believe. Such uncertainty typically means the on-field call will stand.
That was good for IU.
It happened to also be good for Penn State bettors.
DraftKings found the call questionable enough to warrant refunds to anyone with a pregame moneyline bet on Penn State. Funds were returned to accounts within 24 hours.
The sportsbook has since gotten a flood of positive press. It’s rare that fans see retroactive action motivated by in-game calls. For the losers, it felt like justice.
But could DraftKings’ benevolence come at a cost?
Not unprecedented, but rare move sets expectation
The decision by DraftKings to refund bets isn’t without precedent.
Or when DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet all gave refunds to those who had bet on Novak Djokovic to win this year’s US Open. Djokovic was disqualified early in the tournament after unintentionally hitting a line judge with a ball struck in frustration.
Still, DraftKings’ decision to refund Penn State bettors came as a surprise.
The call wasn’t egregiously bad.
A Big Ten referee made a fast-developing, close call to the best of his ability. Replay showed the play so close to a touchdown no one in the crew could definitively say it wasn’t an IU score.
And while some still images seem to show Penix’s run ending centimeters short of the end-zone, others tell a different story.
DraftKings’ choice makes a bettor wonder: Where is the line for a refund?
If there’s anything that stands true in sports, even in the replay era, it’s that controversial calls often define postgame conversations.
Sportsbooks must now decide when that controversy reaches the level of a refund. It won’t be easy.
They must also figure out when a customer-relations decision like the one made this week begins to morph into a regular headache.
Casual fans have certainly been emboldened to demand refunds after every game-changing call they don’t like.
Will the goodwill so clearly sought by DraftKings outweigh the potential regular demands for reimbursement?
That remains to be seen.
The answer will be of great interest to bettors and sportsbooks across America.